- (Reuters) -- France on Saturday [25 Feb
2006] confirmed the presence of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu at
a farm in the east of the country where thousands of turkeys had died.
- The outbreak was discovered on Thursday
at the farm with 11 000 turkeys in the Ain department, where 2 cases of
H5N1 had already been confirmed in wild ducks.
- Laboratory tests by Afssa, France's national
agency for nutritional safety, showed that the virus found at the turkey
farm was 99 per cent homologous with that found in one of the ducks, the
Agriculture Ministry said in a statement. An investigation was under way
to establish how the farm became contaminated with the virus, the ministry
- "What worries us, and this is why
we have reacted immediately, is that the farm is within the protection
zone that we set up for the first duck," farm minister Dominique
Bussereau told French television on Friday, when the authorities were testing
for the virus [see comment]. Poultry sales in France are already down by
about 30 per cent.
- The industry received another blow on
Friday when Japan's embassy in Paris said Tokyo had imposed a temporary
ban on imports of French poultry products after bird flu was found at the
- "In France they have found a farm-raised
fowl contaminated with the virus. It's Japan's policy to ban poultry imports
from countries hit by bird flu," an embassy spokesman said, adding
that the ban was temporary and would take effect immediately.
- The deadly virus is highly contagious
among poultry and can spread through an entire flock within hours. It
remains difficult for humans to catch but has killed more than 90 people
worldwide. Experts say cooked poultry meat is safe to eat.
- The virus has spread from Asia to Africa,
and experts fear poultry in more regions around the world could soon be
- Local sources said about 80 per cent
of the turkeys at the French farm, in a region famous for the quality
of its chickens, had died. The remaining birds were culled.
- French prime minister Dominique de Villepin
has announced an aid package for the sector worth 52 million euros. He
travelled to Lyon on Friday, where authorities held a bird flu simulation
exercise focused on the potential arrival of infected people on a plane
from a bird flu-hit region.
- France has permission from the EU for
a limited vaccination programme in geese and ducks in 3 departments in
the west of the country believed to be at risk from migratory birds.
- Bussereau said 2 of the departments had
decided to opt for the confinement of fowl rather than vaccination.